Taking Account, 2013 Predictions in Review

Author: Mike Edelhart

A year ago, when this column started, I made a set of predictions for Social in 2013. Prognostication is a dangerous game, so many factors can foul up a prediction! And seldom do future-gazers look back and actually see how they did. So, in the interest of full transparency let’s look at how last year’s predictions actually fared.


The winter of our discontent. I said last winter would be rough, lots of companies would get acquired, many more would go under. Doubts about the value and uniqueness of Social would emerge. All of this happened. We have seen tons of articles about the Series A desert for start-ups, the increasing failure rate of emerging companies and more recently about the strain on early stage investors from all those failures. But, as summer follows the snow, Social moved into its next phase of positive growth in the second half of 2013. This time, the focus isn’t marketing, but data and analytics. So, the second prediction The Summer of Love, was also pretty much on the mark.

I predicted Social Business Would Trump Social Marketing, and to a significant degree it has. This doesn’t mean that Social marketing no longer has value or won’t have a huge impact vis a vis traditional marketing. It will. Rather, this points to where the heart of Social lies. Now, that is in the transformation of major companies into Social Businesses. In fact, in 2013, we moved beyond even that point to recognize that, with Social part of everything, the transformation isn’t merely into Social Businesses, but into radically restructured businesses based on all the change happening. In other words, effective business and Social business began becoming redundant terms in 2013 and that will accelerate as we move into 2014.

A Data Panic would happen in 2013, with somebody doing something stupid related to big data. And we did have a dramatic example of this, but not from the quarter I expected. In fact, it was worse. In the follow up to the Boston Marathon bombing, news organizations jumped on weak data and drew faulty conclusions that hauled an innocent young Muslim-American into the heart of the disaster. The speed and ferocity of the belief in the falsehood was shocking. The denouement of this situation was tragic. And this is just a tiny taste of what certainly lies ahead as business and society learn to grapple with worldwide TMI.


I said we’d have our first real Actionable Metrics in 2013 and we didn’t. But the recognition across the market that deeper metrics are essential for growth certainly took hold. What I mis-judged here was the lag of history on change. These kinds of shifts always take longer than one would think. But when the change comes it is deep and permanent. So. I’ll be predicting this again for 2014; and will keep predicting it until, inevitably, it happens.

I said: Somebody small and new would buy somebody big and old in 2013. They didn’t. The year remained defined by bigger, older companies gobbling up smaller, newer, more nimble ones. I still think this will happen. It is one of the fundamentals of tech revolutions as the vibrant new order derives fresh value from the ruins of the old. But here, too, as with metrics, time is a prankster. Belief runs ahead of action and change comes more slowly than logic would propose.

The Big Kahuna of Social would emerge in 2013. This is the company that will truly define this revolution. My thesis was that none of the current companies have the right stuff for this role. They are too marketing-centric. I still think that, but I’ll have to wait for this messiah to arrive. It didn’t show up in 2013

Finally, I said the idea that the next phase of the worldwide network would be defined by people, not devices would emerge in 2013. This didn’t happen in spades. In fact, if anything, the broad belief in the Internet of Things deepened through the year. The CES that just ended was a hymn of praise to a universe of new connected devices. Even our bodies and what we wear on them are beginning to be seen as nodes on the network, sources of actionable data and surfaces for communication. So, while I may be wrong about this trend, I stubbornly hold to my belief that at some point the whole world of Social is going to jump up, smack itself on the forehead and go, “It’s all about the people, dummy!”

3 up, 4 down. It won’t earn me a spot in the prognosticator’s hall of fame, but not bad for starters.

Next column, once more intro the breach! My predictions for Social in 2014.


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